El Hazard OVA Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 14.98
  • Running time: 135
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: El-Hazard

El Hazard OVA Vol. #1

By Martin Thom     November 16, 2007
Release Date: May 29, 2007

El Hazard OVA Vol. #1
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
The discovery of extraordinary ruins beneath the high school becomes the adventure of a lifetime when several students and their teacher are transported to the magical world of El-Hazard! There, each learns to cope with strange new powers and even stranger surroundings. Beautiful women, insane rivalries and bugs the size of people are everyday features in this new world that promises adventure and excitement - but no way home...

The Review!
For the DVD release of the El-Hazard, the Japanese language track was remastered from the original Dolby Digital 2.0 to 5.1 Surround. However, during this process, the audio for the first few episodes is slightly off-kilter, thus throwing off the timing on the subtitles horribly in places. The problem mostly rectifies itself by episode three. Whether listening to the original 2.0 or the new 5.1 track, the audio comes through very well. The 5.1 track sounds slightly clearer, and definitely allows you to feel immersed in the film. The audio on the English 2.0 track suffers slightly from the same problem that the original Japanese 2.0 track has, in that it sounds very slightly fuzzy. Regardless, it is still far superior to the audio previously available on the VHS releases. Featuring few vocal tracks, this series still has gorgeous background music, which flows seamlessly with the animation to give a fantastic viewing experience.

Digitally restored from its original print, the video quality is superb. Animated by AIC, the lush backgrounds for the "magnificent world" are absolutely stunning, and there is virtually no graininess whatsoever on the backgrounds or the characters. Each character has a very high level of detail to them, from the emblems on their clothing to the detailing of shadowing and shimmering effects. Also, fans of other series such as Ergo Proxy, Samurai Champloo, and Heroic Legend of Arslan may recognize the beautiful work of character designer Nakazawa Kazuto.

The case for the disc features some very nice artwork, including a clear case with a picture on the reverse side of the cover. It is not intended to be a reversible cover, but merely to provide additional images of the main characters in the volume. Unfortunately, there is no insert.

The menu is very nicely laid-out, while still remaining simple enough to easily navigate. There are images (some less intricate than others) for all of the menu screens, and music accompanies most of them. Each episode has its own screen, with several chapter stops from which to select.

The only extra included on the disc is an art gallery, featuring over 50 images. Some are taken directly as screen captures from the series itself, although the majority of them are not. There are many which are taken from the animation books, showing close-ups of character’s features and line-art (which is, unfortunately, cut off in many of the pictures). Also included are several pictures taken from art books, depicting some beautiful watercolors. However, I would highly advise that you NOT view the image gallery until after you have watched both volumes of the series, as some of the images (especially those toward the end) show spoilers from the second volume. The art gallery is easily navigable with the left and right arrow keys on your remote, and you can get back to the extras menu at any time by simply pressing the “ok” button.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first of only two volumes, a lot of content is included in the four episodes on this disc. While the series has some very serious overtones, such as the imposing Eye of God looking down upon the world of El-Hazard, there is still a very high level of comedy to help offset that.

Unexpectedly snatched from Earth by a mysterious woman who was found in ancient ruins underneath a Japanese high school, Makoto, Fujisawa-sensei, Nanami, and her brother Jinnai all suddenly find themselves transported to the mysterious world of El-Hazard. Almost immediately upon arriving, Makoto and Fujisawa-sensei save Rune Venus, one of the two princesses of Roshtaria, from the Bugrom, giant bug-like creatures who possess amazing physical strength. Astonished by the incredible strength Fujisawa-sensei has suddenly gained (which he used to defeat the Bugrom), there is little time to ponder over this as they find themselves rushed to the palace. Apparently, Makoto is the spitting image of Fatora, the other princess of Roshtaria, and is asked to cross-dress as the princess in order to cover up the fact that the real Fatora has been missing for some days.

Having been separated from the other two during the dimensional shift, Jinnai finds himself in the midst of the Bugrom kingdom, where he promptly (and pompously) takes command of the army and teaches the Bugrom how to use dishonest tactics in order to better win their battles. Seeing Makoto as his life-long rival, Jinnai is especially determined to overcome the Alliance and be the ruler of El-Hazard once he realizes that Makoto is working to unseal an ancient weapon. He launches a series of successful invasions of border countries, and ultimately declares that he must also have access to a weapon of unequaled power in order to utterly crush Makoto once and for all. Reluctantly, Queen Diva tells him of the legend of the most terrible of the ancient demon gods.

In order to overcome the imposing threat of a Bugrom invasion, the Roshtaria Alliance sends the false princess, along with Fujisawa-sensei and the real Fatora’s lesbian lover to Mount Muldoon. There, they hope to gain audience with the three priestesses who still worship the ancient gods, and break the seal on the Eye of God, which is said to have destroyed El-Hazard in ancient times. The priestesses are reluctant to do this, until they learn that the Bugrom’s Queen Diva intends to resurrect the ancient demon god Ifurita, the most taboo thing in all of El-Hazard. Nanami meets up with Makoto and Fujisawa-sensei as they are consulting the priestesses at a hot spring, and immediately joins them in their endeavors (after all, prior to this, she has been working as a waitress and a lunch-box saleswoman). During all of this, a secret organization – the Phantom Tribe – working in the underground caves of El-Hazard plot to assassinate Makoto as part of their plans to conquer El-Hazard for themselves!

When Jinnai’s plan reach the forbidden island succeeds, Makoto is shocked to recognize the ancient demon god as the same beautiful girl who sent him (and his colleagues) to El-Hazard in the first place. Unfortunately, she has no memory of this event’s ever taking place, and begins to launch an attack on the Alliance under the command of Jinnai and the Bugrom!

With three powerful groups vying for control of the world, the disc wraps up at a point which perfectly sets the stage for the final battles that will take place in volume 2. Additionally, there’s still the question of what special ability Makoto himself gained upon reaching El-Hazard.

In Summary:
Featuring a great storyline, memorable characters, and hilarious scenes intermingled with the seriousness of the story, this is one disc anime fans will not want to miss. From cross-dressing impostor princesses to maniacal would-be world conquerors, not to mention the fickle lesbian who believes that if you can’t be with the one you love, you should love the one you’re with, this series will have you laughing while still keeping you on the edge of your seat to see what will happen next.

Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1,Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0,English Dolby Digital 2.0,Art Gallery,Hidden Features

Review Equipment
Panasonic 30” CRT TV, Philips DVP5140 progressive-scan code-free DVD player via composite video cables, Pioneer VSX-D400 receiver with 5.1 channel speaker system.


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